Davis was convicted of felony murder in connection with the
death of Lakeitha Sims. On appeal, Davis argues that the trial
court erred by admitting a statement he made to a detective
that Davis contends he did not freely and voluntarily make;
that the trial court erred by improperly admitting into
evidence a letter that Davis contends violated his reasonable
expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment; and that
Davis's due process rights were violated because of the
14-year delay between Davis's jury verdict and the trial
court's denial of his motion for new trial. For the
reasons that follow, we disagree and affirm the trial
court's denial of Davis's motion for new trial.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
the evidence presented at Davis's trial showed that on
the evening of August 16, 2003, Davis was at Sims's
mobile home with Sims and Emanuel Tillman. Davis and Tillman
were living with Sims, and Davis and Sims were involved in a
evening of August 16, Davis and Sims "got into an
argument over how the furniture was moved around" in the
living room. At some point after the argument, Davis and
Tillman went to a gas station to buy "a few beers."
After returning from the gas station, both men began drinking
and smoking marijuana in a car outside of Sims's home.
When "it was starting to get dark out," Davis went
inside. Tillman stayed in the car "listening to
music" and "drinking" and eventually fell
point later that night, Davis came back outside, woke Tillman
up, and said that "someone was coming looking for"
them. Davis was "in a rush," and he and Tillman
went inside, packed their bags, and drove to the nearby
mobile home of Lisette Rodriquez around 2:00 or 3:00
When Davis and Tillman entered Rodriquez's home,
Rodriquez was not there but two other people were. Tillman
"looked like he [had seen] a ghost" and Davis
"was acting . . . edgy" and "pacing the floor
back and forth." Davis said that he and Tillman had
gotten into an argument at a nightclub in Savannah a few
weeks prior with a man called "TKO" and that TKO
was now coming after Davis and Tillman. Davis said that
he and Tillman were fleeing to Chicago, where Davis was
originally from, and that he needed to get in touch with
Rodriquez in order to retrieve some money she owed him for a
television he gave to her. After talking to Rodriquez by
phone, Davis left to pick up Rodriquez from a Holiday Inn,
where she was with a friend after work, and Rodriquez gave
Davis the money he requested and filled his car with gas.
Tillman stayed behind at Rodriquez's house. At this
point, it was "[c]lose to 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning,
still dark." Davis told Rodriquez that there were men
"chasing" him and Tillman before he left to pick up
Tillman from Rodriquez's home. Davis and Tillman then
drove to Chicago, arriving around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. that
that morning, Sims's mother, Delores, called Sims after
not receiving a call from her daughter. Sims and her mother
were close and talked on the phone every day, and Sims had
made plans to bring her three-month old daughter to visit
Delores that weekend. Delores grew concerned when her
repeated calls to Sims went unanswered. Finally, after a day
and a half of unanswered phone calls, Delores decided to
drive to Sims's home to check on her daughter, bringing
her nephew along with her. When they arrived at Sims's
home, they saw Sims's car in the yard and Sims's
pocketbook in the front seat of her car. After unsuccessfully
calling for Sims and knocking on her door, Delores called the
police. A police officer came by the house but eventually
left. Finally, Delores's nephew was able to enter the
house through a back window and let Delores in the home.
Inside, Delores found Sims's daughter on the bedroom
floor crying, and Delores's nephew found Sims's body
in the bathroom "laying over the tub." They called
the police, and the paramedics and police arrived on the
scene shortly thereafter.
was arrested on September 13, 2003, and eventually indicted
for malice murder and felony murder. At trial, the paramedic
who responded to the scene testified that he found Sims's
body in the bathroom. Sims was "knelt down, bent over
into the bathtub" and had "obvious rigor
mortis," meaning that "she had been dead for a
while in order for her body to be stiff."
detective, who was the primary investigator on the case,
testified that Sims was "laying across the bathtub with
her head into the bathtub laying down." He also
testified that he noticed "some blood" "down
by her face" when he "looked into the
bathtub." Although there were no signs of struggle
elsewhere in the house, the detective sealed the crime scene.
medical examiner testified that Sims had abrasions on the
back of her left shoulder, her knees, and the top of the foot
at her ankle. Although the medical examiner testified that
there were no "significant areas of abrasion" or
"remarkable external injuries" to Sims's neck
area, Sims did suffer internal neck injuries, multiple
abrasions to her face and lips, a "large area of
hemorrhage" in both eyes, and a "bloody-mucussy
discharge coming from the nose." The medical examiner
ultimately concluded that Sims "died as a result of
manual strangulation with multiple perimortem blunt force
[injuries]" and that her manner of death was homicide.
trial, Davis testified in his own defense. He testified that
on the evening of August 16, he and Sims were arguing because
he was planning to leave because TKO was after him and
"the relationship wasn't working really to a
point." He remembered arguing but could not remember how
the argument "escalated" or what "exactly . .
. happened." He denied ever meaning to harm or kill Sims
that night and said he "never meant for anything -
nothing like this to happen."
does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence.
Nevertheless, consistent with this Court's practice in
murder cases, we have reviewed the record and conclude that,
when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the
evidence presented at trial was sufficient to authorize a
rational jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Davis
was guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. See
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-319 (99 S.Ct.
2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
Davis contends that the trial court erred by admitting into
evidence the second statement Davis made to a detective
because that statement was not freely and voluntarily made.
the course of the investigation into Sims's death,
Hinesville Police Department Detective Tracy Howard and
another detective traveled to Chicago to locate and interview
Davis and Tillman. On September 13, 2003, with the assistance
of local police, Detective Howard located the men in
Matteson, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Detective Howard asked
Davis if "he would agree to go" with him to talk
about "this particular investigation" at the
Country Club Hills Police Department. Davis agreed and
followed the detectives in his own vehicle. The detectives
asked that "Tillman, if he would agree to it, ride with
[the detectives] in [their] vehicle just to prevent any
conversation between . . . Tillman and . . . Davis regarding
any type of questioning that . . . may occur." Davis was
not under arrest at this time, and charges were not pending
Howard then interviewed Davis in an interview room at the
Country Club Hills Police Department. The room was
"boxed in shape" with a table "against the
wall and pretty much . . . in the middle of [the] room."
Davis and Detective Howard were sitting at the table, with
Detective Howard seated on the side closest to the door.
Prior to interviewing Davis, Detective Howard advised Davis
that he was not in custody and also advised Davis of the
Mirandawarnings. Davis indicated that he
understood his rights, initialed and signed the waiver form,
and agreed to speak with Detective Howard. After Davis and
Detective Howard talked for a ...